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NJ to Reverse Ban on General Assistance Payments to Former Drug Convicts

Posted on: May 14, 2021

New Jersey will again attempt to reverse a policy banning former drug convicts from receiving general assistance payments. While those convicted of violent crimes and felony drug possession are eligible to receive $185 monthly and job training in the program aiming to help low-income adults without children improve their living conditions upon leaving incarceration, those with felony drug distribution convictions are not. After two vetoes under predecessor Chris Christie, Gov. Phil Murphy has targeted this hurdle in the upcoming budget, including $7 million more for the fund to include that group with the other returning citizens.

Legislators are working on a bill to remove the ban and will begin hearings next week. Over 13,000 citizens currently receive General Assistance, with that number increasing by a third during the pandemic. Advocates project an additional 1,000 returning citizens with drug distribution convictions would be eligible once the ban is removed. They argue the ban most hurts people living with drug addiction who sold drugs to finance their dependence. The ban has also disproportionately affected communities of color. Many of these people affected would likely benefit significantly from removing the ban. While these returning citizens still are eligible for federal benefits like SNAP, the continued denial of GA cash has been attributed to recidivism and other poverty-perpetuating results.

Working to undo prior marijuana convictions takes a lot of work and specialized knowledge. Having a partner with experience can make the difference. The Monmouth County criminal defense lawyers at Ellis Law have dealt with marijuana possession cases and can advise you on how to move forward and reclaim some dignity. Call today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Based in Freehold, we are proud to serve our neighbors in Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York City.